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Panama Papers whistleblower cites Pacific isles, NZ, for good reasons

Written By: - Date published: 6:37 pm, May 8th, 2016 - 23 comments
Categories: john key, tax - Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jürgen Mossack (photo: Jandrade97/Creative Commons)Panama Papers whistleblower “John Doe” in his “manifesto” published Friday  drew attention to Pacific island tax havens for the same good reason he singled out New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, as the only national leader to be named.

Doe noted Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, whose 11.5 million files revealed a tsunami of tax dodging around the globe, “used its influence to write and bend laws worldwide to favour the interests of criminals over a period of decades.”

“In the case of the island of Niue, the firm essentially ran a tax haven from start to finish.”

He noted Key had been “curiously quiet about his country’s role in enabling the financial fraud Mecca that is the Cook Islands”.

Key dismissed this accusation as “confused” because the Cooks use the New Zealand dollar.

The Cook Islands “Wine Box” tax haven scandal was very familiar to all New Zealanders in the 1990s – it was a by-product of the fast and loose financial culture introduced to New Zealand by fourth Labour Government Finance Minister, Roger Douglas.

The Wine Box documents which came into the hands of some journalists and NZ First leader Winston Peters, bore much similarity to the 11.5 million documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca and include similar taxpayer rorts, just like New Zealand’s current policy of not taxing foreign entities registered here.

The Wine Box papers detailed extensive tax avoidance and evasion schemes run through Cook Islands offshore companies associated with a special purpose company, EPI, owned by the then New Zealand state bank, Bank of New Zealand, merchant bank Fay Richwhite & Co, whose principals Michael Fay and David Richwhite, were closely connected to both the Labour and National parties.

The Commission of Inquiry into Certain Matters relating to Taxation, better known as the Wine Box inquiry, after a tortuous three-year investigation, controversially concluded that no fraud was committed. Legal appeals to that ruling taken by Peters partially overturned the conclusion with the PrivyCouncil stating there was a prima facie case of fraud.

By then the whitewashing action had achieved its purpose.

In the aftermath of the Wine Box, the Cooks, which are constitutionally part of New Zealand, agreed that it would allow New Zealand oversight of its tax affairs.

Journalist Fran O’Sullivan, a key figure in the Wine Box affair, noted on Q&A yesterday, that a dump of Cook Islands documents in 2013 showed little had changed.

The whole concept of establishing the Cook Islands as a tax haven was overtly and covertly supported by the likes of Roger Douglas and his successor Ruth Richardson on the precept that the islands would become more self sufficient and less dependent on aid.

That philosophy – of trying to build businesses rather than alleviate poverty — essentially is still followed today, as evidenced by the recently revealed tawdry affair in Niue, whereby New Zealand company Scenic Hotels was in 2014 awarded the contract to run Matavai Resort, funded to the tune of $7.5 million by New Zealand aid.

It transpired Scenic’s founder, Earl Hagaman, donated $101,000 to the National Party. Foreign Minister Murray McCully denies any connection but in the words of Christine Keller’s famous phrase, “well, he would say that wouldn’t he.”

The Cook Island tax haven model was imitated by Niue, Samoa and Vanavatu among others.

Mike Field, a journalist who knows more about dark activities in the Pacific islands than anyone, has, since the Panama Papers scandal has erupted, written two detailed articles outlining their nefarious operations in different Pacific islands.

Back in the 1990s, he exposed Mossack Fonseca’s Pacific activities, and he will be surely one of the only journalists to get a full interview with Mossack’s German principal, Jürgen Mossack, , who he likened to the Waffen SS staffer Jürgen father was.

For the Nikkei Asian Review, he noted that by the time Mossack turned his attention to the South Pacific, the Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Nauru were already deeply into the offshore financial sector business.

Nauru had 450 “banks” registered to a single government mailbox through which $70 billion of Russian mafia money passed in 1998, according to statements by the Russian central bank.

Mossack bypassed those islands after reaching a 20-year exclusive deal in 1996 to handle offshore incorporations for Niue, a dependency of New Zealand with a population of under just over 1,100.

Niue received $100 a year from each of the 6,000 international business companies set up by Mossack Fonseca over eight years. Local lawyer Peleni Talagi, daughter of the current prime minister, became the firm’s agent.

Niue registration offered “total secrecy and anonymity,” with no need to file annual returns, the firm’s web ads bragged. . There were no requirements to disclose beneficial owners, nor any need to to file annual returns. “Complete business privacy and confidentiality” was assured. Opaqueness was enhanced by allowing company creation in Chinese characters as well as Cyrillic or Russian script.

Such was its success that by the late 1990s Niue’s activities were attracting the attention of the Group of Eight, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the U.S. State Department’s 1999 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report which said: “Niue’s thriving offshore financial sector has been linked with the laundering of criminal proceeds from Russia and South America.”

Credit card activities were blocked threatening its tiny tourism industry. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand saw Niue, because it used the New Zealand dollar, as a threat to the currency.

New Zealand’s Labour Government in 2000 tried to close down Niue’s haven business which led to Jürgen Mossack’s visit, but Foreign Minister Phil Goff refused to meet him.

Jürgen Mossack denied to Field his Niue operation was laundering “criminal receipts” as there was no banking system there. He told Field his business involved people “trying to avoid paying taxes in their home countries” – crucially “avoidance”, “unlike evasion”, is within the law, he said.

The OECD was using money laundering as a pretence to go after tax, he claimed. Niue had been offering “unfair tax competition” to the OECD.

He suggested the rich should protect their tax base in their own countries, not by beating up Niue.

“If OECD countries want to be serious about unfair tax competition they are going to have to close down their own operations first.”

According to data compiled from Mossack Fonseca’s files by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the firm’s use of Niue as a tax haven peaked in 1999 with over 6000 accounts, and Mossack shut down its operations in 2004, though the island still ranks as the fifth most-used tax haven by the firm since 1977, according to the ICIJ’s calculations.

Mossack relocated its regional operations to Samoa, taking advantage of local legislation on international financial operations that had been in place since 1987. Samoa ranked as the sixth most-used tax haven by Mossack Fonseca. Nine other trustee companies are licensed by the Samoan Government.

In response to the publication of the papers, the Samoan government said the sector complied with international standards and “made assurances that Samoa will redouble its efforts to ensure Samoa cannot and will not be used by money launderers and tax evaders.”

Field notes Samoa has been less than cooperative in the past. According to documents cited by the Australian Financial Review, a member of the ICIJ team, a 2007 letter from the chief executive of the Samoa International Finance Authority wrote to Mossack Fonseca saying, “As you are aware, we have been deliberately stalling the proposals from OECD countries to enter into Tax Information Exchange Agreements.”

Field, in his colourful Spinoff article cataloguing his career in the Pacific, reveals how Nauru, under corrupt former president Bernard Dowiyogo became even more of a Wild West for tax havens than Niue. Over 450 banks were registered to a single Nauru mailbox, which was a money laundering front, used, according to the Russian Central Bank, to launder over US$70 billion of Russian mafia money in 1999, with the actual money channelled through accounts in the Bank of New York.

Field’s sources revealed that around a third of the 450 “banks” were of Middle Eastern origin, including Al-Qaeda fronts. The same names turned up again a few years later, when Tonga instituted a flag of convenience shipping scheme.

In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks the dying Dowiyogo was pressured to close down the tax haven in return for treatment in the US.

Field comments on the hypocrisy of Pacific leaders, espousing Christianity, but who are happily complicit to establishing schemes of malfeasance, and sometimes blatant criminality that rip off nations which are invariably their main aid donors.

“They would justify it by saying places like Hong Kong and Delaware were doing it. There were no victims, they would say,” Field says

Mossack correctly stated in Field’s interview that money laundering via “states” like Nauru could only be done with the aid of the world’s big banks such as HSBC and Bank of America which have recently been convicted for money laundering. HSBC last year paid a fine of 40 million Swiss francs in return for shutting down an investigation into its laundering.

Field points out that vast amounts of Mexican drug money was laundered via US-based banks using shell New Zealand company fronts, mostly set up by father and son operation Geoffrey and Michael Taylor, who have registered a huge percentage of companies registered in New Zealand.

“Every operation of that scale needs the intervention of the big international banks,” Jurgen Mossack told Field. “When they see an unusual operation they must know it, and if they then continue the business it is because either they are not interested in the morals of the story, or they see it as good business to continue these operations.”

“If you have figures of that sort… then the international banks know what they are doing.”

Mossack claimed his firm was being picked on because it was from Panama and he may be right. “Why is somebody who is based in Panama any different, any worse, than somebody based in the United States or Europe? Panama is a country like any other, it is an on-shore country, it is not an island in the middle of nowhere.”

If Pacific leaders are hypocritical being Christian while running these operations, there are equally hard questions to be asked about New Zealand’s politicians, especially of Key.

He is simply wrong both to say that John Doe is confused about the Cooks, or that it is not New Zealand’s responsibility.

Constitutionally, New Zealand has a “special relationship” and the influence over Niue is even more powerful. We may not have constitutional influence over Samoa but the influence is undeniable. Neither Key, nor Helen Clark before him, were prepared to wield the aid card.

As Winston Peters said on The Nation today, given that Key was a “financial whizz” in his former role with Merrill Lynch, he can’t have been unaware of what the Cooks, Niue and co have been up to.

New Zealand’s own laws facilitating foreigners’ tax avoidance are also untenable.

It comes down to this – why are Key and his mates both here and abroad, not just content to tolerate, but are active in setting up these “legal” means to allow criminal tax evasion, avoidance and money laundering? The answer is this – they want to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

The ICIJ, that has been given access to the Mossack Fonseca files, plans to publish a “map” on the documents linking all the companies and the officers involved with them on Tuesday NZ time. We await with interest.

(Simon Louisson formerly worked for The Wall Street Journal, NZPA, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and was most recently a political and media adviser to the Green Party)

23 comments on “Panama Papers whistleblower cites Pacific isles, NZ, for good reasons”

  1. Paul Campbell 1

    “John Doe” the Panama Papers leaker has drawn attention to National’s changes to our trusts laws in 2010 as being responsible for us becoming a tax haven, as usual Key keeps trying to pin the blame on earlier changes by Labour but this focuses us back on what National has done and why.

    I think we’ve been sidetracked by Key’s connection to his lawyer, his foreign trust activities, the good old boys, smoked filled rooms, insider lobbying … National business as usual. We can also remember Key publicly championing NZ as a southern hemisphere centre for international finance ….

    What I think we’re not looking into is how and why did those 2010 changes happen – who lobbied Key? was it his ‘lawyer’ who runs Key’s ‘blind’ trust? who else? was it’s Key’s idea that these changes should happen? who else championed the changes? what connections do they have? who donated money to the Nats during that time?

  2. Gangnam Style 2

    No wonder Mr Angry (Hooton) is spinning wildly on Twitter, just saw this tweet from Bryce Edwards, “Nicky Hager, TVNZ, and RNZ will release NZ-related #panamapapers research tomorrow at 6am.” … Could be very interesting!

    • Paul 2.1

      Thought it was Tuesday…

    • Anne 2.2

      Love this tweet from you know who:

      Matthew Hooton ‏@MatthewHootonNZ
      I don’t take the word of an anonymous criminal. Hand over papers to tax authorities for proper investigation

      Well, isn’t that why the papers are being released? So that the tax authorities can look into the data for any possible illegal or criminal activity? Why, didn’t Key say he expected the IRD to investigate anything “unusual” about 24 hrs ago?

      Anyway Matty boy… a lot of people don’t take your word for anything much either.

      • save nz 2.2.1

        But the NZ tax authorities also have their nose in the trough!

        TVNZ reveals the New Zealand operation centres on an accountancy firm called Bentleys, run by Roger Thompson, a former Inland Revenue executive.

        Bentleys, in downtown Auckland, is the New Zealand agent for Mossack Fonseca.

        Bentleys charges NZ$4000 to set up trusts for wealthy foreigners who then use New Zealand’s limited disclosure rules to stay anonymous even to IRD. Bentleys charges another $2000 a year to send a one page form to IRD to confirm the trust clients don’t need to pay any tax under New Zealand law.

  3. Alan W 3

    you leap from fact to conjecture in your second to last paragraph, got any evidence to back that up?

    • lprent 3.1

      I think at this point the onus of proof is pretty much on our public servants like politicians to prove that they aren’t screwing other taxpayers.

      That is particularly the case for John Key bearing in mind that his “personal lawyer” was a shill for at least tax avoidance schemes here. It is pretty clear that John Key doesn’t want to disclose that kind of information. I’m afraid that is unacceptable bearing in mind what has been disclosed with other public servants world wide.

      There are far too many opportunities for public servants like John Key to feather their own nests and those of their friends by their decisions made when they don’t disclose their interests.

      • Henry Filth 3.1.1

        No, I think that here, as everywhere else, the burden of proof is on the accuser. That’s a principle, not ” . . . particularly the case for John Key”.

        Assertion is not argument, and accusation is not evidence.

        On the other hand, should the evidence be found, impeach the little b*gger.

        • Gristle 3.1.1.1

          HF there already is recognition that politicians need to have greater financial disclosure. This is the basis for the register in parliament. Further, the use blind trusts by PM’s shows they recognise the need to isolate their financial interests from their ability to influence outcomes favourable to their financial interests.

          The surprising thing with Key’s blind trust is that he can actually look into it and see the disposition of its assets.

          The question being asked now is does that disclosure level have to up a level to show tax records. For NZ tax records are private whereas this is not the case throughout the western world.

          As to your position on the burden of proof, I think many issues inside the tax regime have already shifted the burden of proof onto the taxpayer.

  4. Nick 4

    The Panama leaks get right to the core of how people like ShonKey make their millions. Hopefully enough NZers realise in time for the electionthat this guy has been scamming his whole life and is now scamming the whole country.

  5. AmaKiwi 5

    Little says he would shut down foreign trusts.

    Good work, Andrew. Clear and unequivocal. Excellent timing.

    Another excellent article by Simon Louisson. Thank you.

    • Whateva next? 5.1

      Seconded

    • NZJester 5.2

      I would say what about all the tax we will loose from the income of the ones running the trusts. But then I remembered they are running trusts to help others avoid tax and so very likely know how to hide their own income from tax. Looks like all we have to loose is our label as a tax haven.

      • Hanswurst 5.2.1

        “Lose”. Please, for the love of God, it’s “lose”, not “loose”. Sorry to single you out, but I’ve been seeing that particular misspelling so often that it’s really starting to set my teeth on edge.

        • Ed 5.2.1.1

          Would that we could “loose” some tax from all those legal tax avoidance schemes. Good on you for raising the spelling issue.

  6. seeker 6

    Was john key singled out by the Panama Papers hacker because he is now the chairman of the right wing International Democratic Union, as well as pm of New Zealand, so could have extra fish to fry?

  7. save nz 7

    Also of note is that One News last night made sure to say that trusts had been happening since the 1980’s i.e. Labour does it too!

    Nothing like having biased news here in little corrupt NZ!

    Also forget about tax avoidance being legal, it is pretty clear these lawyers and their clients have crossed the line into tax evasion and money laundering which is NOT legal.

    Even worse and scary is that politicians and lobbyists have bought themselves power to change legalisation so that they change the laws to steal tax payers money and resources and then use the weasel words “but it is legal” with laws they put in themselves to steal the money and assets and make corruption legal!

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/07/10bn-dollar-question-marcos-millions-nick-davies

  8. Venezia 8

    Yes. The John Doe manifesto helps us join the dots. The links between rapidly growing global social inequality, the seeming inability of those with power to do anything to change it, the skimming off from the tax base of countries desperate for funds to develop their economies, the rise and rise of the fortunes of the 1% – all assisted by the financial power plays of foreign trusts and shell companies. John Key and his mates may keep saying it is all legal, but ethical and moral? Mossack Fonseca have been shown to be very dodgy. The vehicles they tout in the financial market place assist a variety of serious crime. Let us see what is uncovered in the weeks and months to come………

    https://panamapapers.icij.org/20160506-john-doe-statement.html

  9. Jack Ramaka 9

    The legal profession in NZ has been extremely dodgy since year dot=Fact.

  10. I don’t think the issue is having all a person’s finance in a trust. It’s the lack of disclosure isn’t it? I mean at the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter where you put your money and what benefits you’re getting from putting your money in a particular place as long as you are truthful and honest about it right?

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  • New Zealand Gives up on Trying to Save Daylight
    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the nation today about the decline in daylight New Zealand has been experiencing over the previous few months. She said “As many of you will notice, our attempts to stem the dwindling of the daylight over the last few months have been completely ...
    Can of wormsBy Can of Worms, Opened
    5 days ago
  • A bulletin from Greece
    Redline received this article from the KOE a Marxist party in Greece Our friends in the KOE describe here the mounting crisis in Greece and tensions on the Turkish border. As desperate people flee from their homelands which have been ruined after decades of imperialist wars and interventions the people ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • And God spake all these words, saying
    As the first week of Level Four lockdown unfolded, mounting questions grew as to just what was (and was not) allowed under its “rules”. Partly these were driven by some apparently contradictory messages from different authority figures and explanations carried in the media. Partly they reflected a somewhat sketchy legal basis ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    5 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 9
    . . April 3: Day 9 of living in lock-down… Another late-start to my work day. Everything is temporarily upended as clients are shuffled around so we can minimise our “bubble” by reducing the number of people we help. One of my colleagues has been removed from his clients; his ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Death to our lockdown enemies!
    We must root out the traitors among us! ...
    Imperator FishBy Scott Yorke
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: The benefits of electrification
    In order to meet our 2050 carbon target and do our bit to avoid making the Earth uninhabitable, New Zealand needs to decarbonise our economy, replacing fossil fuels with electricity in the energy, industrial and transport sectors. The good news is that it will mean cheaper power for all of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 8 (sanitised version)
    For those folk who find my other Lock-Down Diary versions too “negative” or otherwise unpalatable… Here’s a photo of a pretty flower, .   . Better? Tomorrow’s Sanitised Version: a cute animal video. . . . =fs= ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 8
    . . April 2: Day eight of living in lock-down… Today, my work day starts late. Our rosters and clients have been dramatically changed, lessening (theoretically) the number of people in our work “bubble”.  If just one of us catches covid19 the impact could be considerable as Grey Base Hospital ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • A note on apartments and bubbles
    As Aotearoa enters week two of lockdown, it’s clear we’re all still working out what our “bubbles” look like and how to stay in them to stop the spread of Covid-19. New to the government’s Covid-19 website is some good guidance for people living in apartment blocks. Recent decades have ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    6 days ago
  • Getting in futures shape 
    “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” Lenin Don’t we all know that feeling now.

    Prospect Magazine alerted me to this particularly apt quote. It is a much more evocative quote than Hemingway’s “gradually then suddenly” which is also doing ...

    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    6 days ago
  • Maybe axing Clark would be unfair. But what about any of this is fair?
    Yesterday was the day the consequences of the lockdown suddenly got very real for many. Firms have been closing and laying people off since the outset of the quarantine but this has mostly been happening out of the public eye. The mass closure of a number of iconic New Zealand ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    6 days ago
  • Might a ‘Coasean’ social contract mitigate overall societal harm from COVID-19?
    Brian Williamson1, Prof Nick Wilson2 (1Economic consultant, UK; 2University of Otago Wellington) In this blog, we outline how a win-win social contract could be forged to address the major dimensions of response to the COVID-19 pandemic when using a mitigation strategy: the particular need to protect older people from high ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    7 days ago
  • Returning To “Normalcy”.
    Resuming Normal Service: The Republican Party's nominee for in 1920, Warren Harding, promised the American people: “not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration”. If she wishes to remain our prime minister, then Jacinda Ardern will offer New Zealanders the same.HOW EDUCATED AMERICA snickered when the ...
    7 days ago
  • New Zealand’s Government Must Save New Zealand’s Media.
    No Free Society Without A Free And Functioning News Media: If we are to surrender our civil rights to the broader cause of defeating Covid-19, then foreign corporations must, likewise, surrender their right to inflict immense economic and cultural harm on New Zealanders simply because it improves their bottom line.I’M ...
    7 days ago
  • Corona fevers and the madness of models
    by Daphna Whitmore A third of the world is under lockdown and a clear assessment of this measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 is urgently needed.  With any high-stakes decisions it has to be asked what are we dealing with here? Are the measures warranted? Will they achieve their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    7 days ago
  • Lockdown day 8
    I haven’t done a huge amount in the last few days. I’m reading The Poppy War and I’ve sort of poked at a couple of games – I started SOMA but I’m a wimp and I quit while in the first room after the brain scan. I might try it ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    7 days ago
  • Backstage and Theatre
    The swan politicians may be gliding on the water, occasionally snapping at one another. Meanwhile, as the Covid19 crisis illustrates, the officials are desperately paddling below providing the real locomotion. One of the most fatuous recent grandstanding comments (of about a week ago), adding to the public’s anxieties, was ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • Legal Beagle: Waiver, the singular Crown and the conduct of Crown legal business
    Much has been written about the importance of discretion in an emergency situation, and the concerns raised by the potential for it to be exercised arbitrarily. Given the quality of the discussion, there seemed little point in adding to it at any length. In particular, I point to the evidence ...
    1 week ago
  • Highlights from Bauer Media’s science-related reporting
    Today has felt surreal. I was all set to touch base online with my science communication students when a colleague shared the news that Bauer Media would be shutting down its publications immediately. The first link I saw implied it was Woman’s Weekly affected, and even that shocked me. But ...
    SciBlogsBy Sarah-Jane O'Connor
    1 week ago
  • Outsiders.
    Bogeymen, Real And Imagined: Is the number of psychopathic and sociopathic individuals in any given society truly as vanishingly small as we like to tell ourselves? Isn’t it more likely that the mass-shooters and serial-killers filling the headlines represent only the tip of a much, much larger iceberg of frightfulness? ...
    1 week ago
  • We have a right to know the rules we are expected to obey
    Outgoing Police Commissioner Mike Bush appeared before the Epidemic Response Committee today, who asked him for the rules police are using to enforce the lockdown. He refused:Police Commissioner Mike Bush has admitted the advice given to Kiwis about what they're able to do during the lockdown hasn't been clear enough. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 7 (sanitised version)
    For those folk who find my other Lock-Down Diary versions too “negative” or otherwise unpalatable… Here’s a photo of my cat, . . Better? Tomorrow’s Sanitised Version: a pretty flower. . . . =fs= ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 7
    . . April 1: Day seven of living in lock-down… This morning I had a brief chat with one of my neighbours, “D” (social distance between us, a good three or four metres). I learned he had resigned from his previous job and had been hired by another company – ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • RIP The Listener, New Zealand’s pioneering voice
    Funnily enough, my thought as I start this post is whether it will be well written enough. Or should that be well enough written? Because so much of what I know about good writing came from my two stints at The Listener, which this morning was shut down due to ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    1 week ago
  • OK, Britney: stop sniping at National for doing its job
    With normal democratic procedures in abeyance, there were two ways to go. First, it was open for the government to dissolve itself and invite the National Party to join a ministry of national salvation. That would have lessened the democratic deficit of the times by having a team of rivals without ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Helpful tips for parents during lockdown
    Dr Kirsty Ross Children and young people can respond differently in times of distress. This also varies by age and developmental stage, with younger children having more magical and imaginative thinking, and older children having more awareness and knowledge of the issues our communities are facing (which brings up ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #13, 2020
    1 week ago
  • Hungary is now a dictatorship
    Hungary has been a virtual dictatorship for a decade now, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has gradually eroded its democracy. But now, its official, with the passage of an indefinite emergency law allowing rule by decree:Hungary’s parliament has passed a new set of coronavirus measures that includes jail terms for ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A new Ministry of Works
    While the economy is on pause under lockdown, the government is beginning to plan how to cope with the post-lockdown, post-tourism, post-export education world we will eventually find ourselves in. They're planning a lot of infrastructure spending as economic stimulus, and have asked for proposals which can start the moment ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Capture: Well spaced out
    It's my distraction,  setting up tiny scenes to photograph.  I've got stuck on the Babushka dolls for now.  Something about their bubble shape.  Something about their never changing, smiling features, suggesting persistent equanimity.  Can we get through everything that is being thrown at us and keep at least a tiny ...
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 6
    . . March 31: Day six of living in lock-down… This time I managed to sleep a little longer and the alarm woke me at the pre-set time: 6.55am. Then remembered I was working a later shift and could’ve slept in. Oh well, there are things to do at home. ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • March ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: Diamond Harbour School Blogs I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your blog is unexpectedly missing or ...
    1 week ago
  • Hard News: Poll Pot and the partisans
    Yesterday's Horizon poll showing support for a "Yes" vote in this year's cannabis referendum sliding into the majority for the first time in a year looked like good news for reformers – and it probably is. But the result warrants some scrutiny.The poll is the fifth in a series commissioned ...
    1 week ago
  • Why those bubbles are so important
    For almost a week now, every one of us who isn’t an essential worker has been confined to their bubble. We are allowed to go shopping for groceries, to visit the doctor, and to get a bit of exercise if we stay local. The reason we are doing this is ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • A Government System That Works
    The Covid-19 saga will no doubt produce many twists and turns for us before it is finally brought to an end. But one thing it has shown us – and what comfort it should bring us – is that our country’s government is in good hands. I am not thinking ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Smashing down the barriers: Where are we at with COVID vaccines?
    In the absence of a vaccine or a cure for a deadly disease, staying home in your bubble is what you do, the concept is not new.  To the best of my knowledge last time we did this in NZ was for polio, in the years before a vaccine came ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    1 week ago
  • National Network on Cuba (USA): “Cuban medical solidarity is a pillar of its society and is founde...
    The following statement was released on March 28 by the National Network on Cuba, a coalition of 40 groups, based in the United States. In recent weeks, Cuba has deployed hundreds of medical providers to over a dozen countries in Europe, Asia, as well as to their neighbors in Latin ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago

  • Decisions made on urgent turf maintenance
    The Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson has announced that urgent maintenance of turf and care for plants in non-plantation nurseries will soon be able to go ahead under Level 4 restrictions. “The Government has agreed that urgent upkeep and maintenance of biological assets will be able to go ahead ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Acknowledging an extraordinary te reo champion
    E tangi ana a Taranaki iwi, e tangi ana te ao Māori, otirā e tangi ana te motu. Mōu katoa ngā roimata e riringi whānui ana, mōu katoa ngā mihi.   E te kaikōkiri i te reo Māori, e Te Huirangi, takoto mai. Takoto mai me te mōhio ko ngā ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • Prime Minister’s remarks halfway through Alert Level 4 lockdown
    Today is day 15 of Alert Level 4 lockdown. And at the halfway mark I have no hesitation in saying, that what New Zealanders have done over the last two weeks is huge. In the face of the greatest threat to human health we have seen in over a century, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Licenses, WoFs and regos extended under lockdown
    All driver licences, WoFs, CoFs, and some vehicle certifications, that expired on or after 1 January 2020 will be valid for up to six months from 10 April 2020, Transport Minister Phil Twyford has announced. “People shouldn’t have to worry about getting fined for having an expired document if driving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Inquiry report into EQC released
    The Government has today released the report from the Public Inquiry into the Earthquake Commission chaired by Dame Silvia Cartwright.  Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Grant Robertson says the Government wants to learn from people’s experiences following the Canterbury earthquakes and other recent natural disasters. “Dame Silvia’s report documents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • More time for health workers and elderly to get flu vaccine
    The Government has extended by two weeks till April 27 the amount of time priority groups, such as health workers and those aged over 65, have to get their flu vaccine before it is made available to the wider public. This year’s vaccination campaign is a key component of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    11 hours ago
  • Communities step up to help New Zealanders stay connected and fed during lockdown
    Communities stepping up to help New Zealanders stay at home to break the transmission of COVID-19 and save lives have received Government support, said Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni. “Delivering groceries for the elderly who can’t shop online, providing data packs for low income families to keep them connected, and being ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • 120 COVID-19 testing centres now operating
    Across New Zealand 120 sites are taking samples to be tested for COVID-19.   68 community based assessment centres (CBACs) have been established to take samples from people with COVID-19 symptoms. Alongside this, 52 other centres including designated general practices, swabbing centres, and mobile clinics are now testing people for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Covid19: Government moving quickly to roll out learning from home
    The Ministry of Education is working with partners to develop a package of options so that students can learn at home when Term 2 begins on 15 April, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. Supports are also being prepared for households with children under five, to help parents and whānau ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Making learning from home accessible to Māori learners and whānau
    Māori Television to begin educational te reo programmes Ki te Ao Mārama – a new online learning space Thousands of hard copy learning packs ready for distribution Helpdesk and advice service for kōhanga, kura and wharekura Television, the internet and hard copy learning packs are some of the ways whānau ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand to provide assistance to Vanuatu following Tropical Cyclone Harold
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced an initial package of support to help the people and the Government of Vanuatu respond to the impact of Tropical Cyclone Harold. “Our Pacific neighbours have been hit by a Category 5 Cyclone at the same time as dealing with the economic impacts ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Planning for the future of tourism
    Tourism New Zealand to lead work reimagining the way tourism operates in post-COVID-19 world. Ministers to review International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy investment plan. The Government, industry and business are working together to develop a plan for how tourism will operate in a post-COVID-19 world, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • NZ horticulture sector feeding Kiwis and the world during COVID-19
    More New Zealanders are taking up the chance to work in horticulture as the sector keeps New Zealanders fed and in jobs during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown. “Our horticulture sector has long been one of New Zealand’s export star performers, contributing around $6 billion a year to our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Work to repurpose PGF funds begins
    The Provincial Development Unit is working through applications and projects to see where Provincial Growth Fund money can be repurposed for initiatives deemed more critical to fighting the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. “We need to be throwing everything we have at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • A million workers supported by Govt wage subsidy
    The Government’s wage subsidy to protect jobs and keep workers and businesses connected during the lockdown has now supported over a million New Zealanders, with $6.6 billion already paid out. “We’re supporting businesses to pay wages, and stay connected with their workers so that we are all in a better ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government helps Pacific communities fight COVID
    The Government is stepping up efforts to help protect New Zealand’s Pacific communities in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet has agreed that $17 million will be allocated to support a COVID-19 Pacific Response Package, which will: Support Pacific health and disability services facing increased demand; Ramp up public health messaging ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Statement from the Prime Minister on Dr David Clark
    “Yesterday evening the Health Minister advised me of his trip to a beach during the lockdown and offered his resignation,” Jacinda Ardern said.  “Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses.  “But right now, my priority is our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Statement from David Clark
    Last night as part of my preparation for the Epidemic Response Committee, I provided the Prime Minister with a complete picture of my activity outside my home during Alert Level 4.  That included the fact that on the first weekend of the Alert Level 4 lockdown I drove my family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • COVID-19 mental health support begins
    A range of support is being rolled out across New Zealand to help people look after their mental health during COVID-19 Health Minister David Clark said this morning. “COVID-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty into our lives and many of us will be feeling some level of distress or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealanders in Peru to be assisted by Government charter flight
    The New Zealand Government has made arrangements to charter a flight for New Zealanders stranded in Peru to depart the country, following agreement with the Chilean government to allow the necessary transit through Chile, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced today. “Like many travellers around the world at the moment, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • COVID-19 Hospital Preparation Well Advanced
    Hospital preparations for COVID-19 are well advanced says Health Minister David Clark. “Hospitals across New Zealand are repurposing buildings and training staff to get ready for COVID-19 patients. This gives me confidence that we are well prepared for any potential increase in COVID-19 patients needing hospital level care,” said David ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Further measures to support businesses
    The Government will be introducing legislation to make changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency due to COVID-19 to remain viable and keep New Zealanders in jobs. The temporary changes include: Giving directors of companies facing significant liquidity problems because of COVID-19 a ‘safe harbour’ from insolvency ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Govt’s COVID plan, economic strength recognised
    The Government’s plan to cushion the blow of COVID-19 by supporting incomes, jobs and businesses, and position the economy to recover has been backed by another international report. International credit rating agency Moody’s today reaffirmed its highest Aaa credit rating on New Zealand, saying the economy is expected to remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government supports air services to offshore islands
    The Government has stepped in to support vital air links to our offshore islands, the Chatham Islands, Great Barrier Island and Motiti Island, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. “As part of our $600 million support package to minimise the impacts of COVID-19 on the aviation sector, the Government has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Funding certainty for sports through COVID-19
    National sports organisations have been given certainty of funding to ensure they can remain viable through the COVID-19 pandemic, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced today. “The global spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on sport and recreation in New Zealand, including the cancellation or postponement of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Butchers now allowed to process pork
    Changes have been made to allow butchers to process pork, only for supply to supermarkets or other processors or retailers that are open, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced. “We carefully weighed the risk of allowing butchers to open their shops for retail customers, but the risk of spreading COVID-19 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Essential workers leave scheme established
    Essential workers who take leave from work to comply with public health guidance are being supported with a leave scheme to ensure they will continue to receive income, say the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway and Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni. A number of essential businesses ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt WhatsApp helps share COVID-19 information
    A Government WhatsApp channel has been launched to help make information more easily accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19. Govt.NZ, which is free to use on any mobile device, will carry information and news for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government. It can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Managed departure plan for stranded foreign nationals enables safe, orderly exit
    The Government has announced a plan to enable the safe, orderly exit of tens of thousands of stranded foreign nationals from New Zealand during the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said. “When we moved into lockdown a week ago, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government delivers COVID-19 support to GPs and Pharmacies
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Government is delivering on its commitment to support general practice doctors and nurses, and pharmacies on the front-line of our fight against COVID-19. "For us to overcome COVID-19, we need community health services such as general practice and community pharmacy to step up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Susan Thomas the new Chief High Court Judge
    Justice Susan Thomas has been appointed Chief High Court Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  She replaces Justice Geoffrey Venning who has resigned from the position.   David Parker paid tribute to Justice Venning, who he said had stewarded the High Court very capably over the last five years.   “On behalf ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Business Finance Guarantee – applications open
    Businesses can start applying to their banks for loans under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme set up to support the New Zealand economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re moving quickly to protect New Zealand businesses, jobs and the economy during this unprecedented global economic shock,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Work starts on ways to fast-track consents to boost recovery from Covid-19 downturn
    Work is underway looking at measures to speed up consents for development and infrastructure projects during the recovery from COVID 19, to provide jobs and stimulate our economy.  Environment Minister David Parker said the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global crisis that will have a wide ranging and lasting impact ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Advance payments to support contractors
    Advance payments will be made to transport construction industry contractors to retain the workforce and ensure it is ready to quickly gear up to build projects which will be vital to New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. He said keeping the workforce required to build ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Health system scaled up to prepare for COVID-19
    Work to scale up the health system in preparation for COVID-19 was today outlined by Health Minister David Clark, as he reported back to the new Epidemic Response Committee. “We are well placed to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have taken early and decisive action at our borders, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Supermarkets able to open on Easter Sunday
    The Government is ensuring supermarkets can open on Easter Sunday so we can buy groceries, but stay closed on Good Friday allowing workers to take a break. This provides a balanced approach and ensures we avoid large queues that two days closure may cause. “Supermarkets will be able to open ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago